Massive rise in unemployment

Unemployment in the IUK has soared to over 2 million in the first full month after the coronavirus lockdown started.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) announced that an extra 856,500 had signed on during April, taking the overall total to 2,097 million.

Separate

Separate figures showed unemployment had also risen by 50,000 to 1.35 million in March as the effects of the virus started to be felt.

People at home on furlough have not been counted in the figures which are expected to rise sharply going forward, even as the government starts to ease the lockdown restrictions to try to get people back into work.

Record high

The announcement showed a massive switch in employment levels as the ONS had previously announced employment was at a record high in the three months up to February. The figures showed 76.6% of people between the ages of 16 and 64 were in paid work.

A new survey by the Resolution Foundation reveals 9% of 18 to 24-year-olds have lost their jobs under lockdown and workers in this age group are at the greatest risk of losing their jobs once restrictions are lifted.

Bleak

Future employment prospects look bleak for many other people as a report by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) claimed more than a fifth of UK companies overall are planning redundancies over the next three months and more than a quarter in the private sector.

The report also revealed many more firms had only been able to survive so far by freezing wages, stopping recruitment, cutting bonuses and furloughing as many workers as possible.
A spokesman said: “Employees should brace themselves for pay freezes or even pay cuts in the year ahead to help preserve jobs.”

Lowest

Future hiring levels are expected to be the lowest for 15 years, figures in line with a Bank Of England statement that Britain is heading for 1980s levels of unemployment.

Chief economist Andy Haldane warned that the high level of unemployment would be accompanied by a workforce fearful of losing jobs or pay.

Full impact

Commenting on the likely full impact of the coronavirus he said: “You’ve got anywhere between a third and a half of the workforce either unemployed, under employed or working shorter hours, and at least some of them might have a fearfulness about future incomes and about their jobs.”